Raoul Magrin-Vernerey

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Officier général francais 4 etoiles.svg
Raoul Magrin-Vernerey
Nickname(s) Ralph Monclar
Born (1892-02-07)7 February 1892
Flag of Hungary.svg Budapest, Hungary
Died 3 June 1964(1964-06-03) (aged 72)
Paris, France
Allegiance Flag of France.svg France
Flag of Free France (1940-1944).svg Free France
French Army
Service/branch Flag of legion.svg French Foreign Legion
Years of service 1912 – 1964
(52 years of service, more than half-century)
Rank Général de corps d'armée
Unit 60th Line Infantry Regiment
16th Chasseur Battalion à Pied
1st Foreign Infantry Regiment
1e REI
3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment
3e REI
2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment
2e REI
5th Foreign Infantry Regiment
5e REI
4th Foreign Infantry Regiment
4e REI
Commands held

13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade
13e DBLE
1st Free French Division
1re DFL


World War I
World War II

Korean War
Awards Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur
Companion of the Liberation
Médaille militaire
Croix de guerre 1914–1918
Croix de guerre 1939–1945
Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (UK)
Silver Star (US)
Other work Governor of Les Invalides

Raoul Charles Magrin-Vernerey, other known as Ralph Monclar born 7 February 1892, was a French officer and 2nd Inspector of the Foreign Legion[1] who fought in World War I, World War II, and particularly within the ranks of the Free French Forces and the French Battalion in the Korean War.[2] He was also one of the first superior officers to respond to the Appeal of 18 June.

Early life[edit]

Following studies at the Victor Hugo school, he was only 15 years old when he first tried to volunteer for the French Foreign Legion. In reason of his young age, he was not admitted and returned to continue his studies.

Military career[edit]

World War I[edit]

Admitted to École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr in 1912, he graduated in 1914 part of the " promotion de Montmirail " with the rank of Sous-lieutenant. On 5 August of the same year, he joined the 60th Line Infantry Regiment (French: 60e régiment d'infanterie de ligne, 60e R.I.L) and completed the war with rank of Captain. He was accordingly titled with knight order of the Légion d'honneur and 11 citations, wounded 7 times and subsequently reformed with a 90% invalidity, mainly due to the effects of bullets, grenade explosion, trepanning wounds and the effects of lethal gas : thigh fractured by bullet, broken arm due to grenade explosion, two head wounds imposing two trepannings, the eyes burned by gas.

Interwar period[edit]

Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, he was put at the disposition of the Allied Chief Commander of the Orient. He then joined the general staff headquarters as chief of the first bureau in the beginning of 1919. Accordingly, he was administered by the 1st Moroccan Tirailleur Regiment (French: 1er Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains, 1er R.T.M). On 25 September, he was designated to conduct a training program at the Center of Aviation of the 415th Infantry Regiment 415e RI of San Stefano where he was appointed as an aviation instructor. Following this particular formation, he joined the administrative services of the Levant in Beirut, Lebanon as an adjoint to the Administrator. He was accordingly designated as an Administrative Council on 1 March 1920 then Inspector on 19 October. In this post, he earned a citation at the order of the armed forces. On 11 May 1921, he was designated in charge of forming the Army of the Levant present in the Levant. Accordingly, he was assigned to the 4th combat company of the 1st Squadron, a squadron which he assumed the command of on 1 July. Within context, he held that position and function long enough to become the adjoint of the regimental commander.

On 1 March 1924, he finally joined the ranks of the French Foreign Legion sought since his minor age. After a brief touring with the 1st Foreign Infantry Regiment 1er REI, he was assigned to the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment, 3e R.E.I (the recently redesignated Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion) and took part in the Moroccan campaign until 1927. Following, he joined the Middle East (French: Proche Orient) where he was promoted to rank of Chef de battaillon (Commandant – Major) in 1928.

On 14 October 1930, he was designated to take command of the 16th Chasseur Battalion à Pied (French: 16e Bataillon de chasseurs à pied, 16e B.C.P).

Following this command, he was reassigned to the Legion in 1931 and would not leave this function until October 1941. During this 10-year tenure, he was assigned to the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment, 2e R.E.I, then stationed in Morocco and joined the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment, 5e R.E.I in Tonkin.

World War II[edit]

Returning from the Far East, he assumed in January 1938 command of the instruction battalion at Saïda, while being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-colonel on 25 June of the same year, prior to embarking to Morocco with the 4th Foreign Infantry Regiment 4e REI. On 23 February 1940, he rejoined the 3e R.E.I which formed a Mountain Marching Battalion Groupment. He was designated as a regimental commander of 2 Legion battalions which formed the 13th Light Mountain Demi-Brigade of the French Foreign Legion (French: 13e Demi-Brigade Légère de Montagne de Légion Etrangère, 13e DB.L.MLE). Regrouped first in Larzac then Sathonay, his unit prepared for a campaign with destination unknown. This would the beginnings of the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion, 13e DBLE.

On 13 May at Bjervik in Norway, the 13e DBLE delivered the first fire baptisation, conquered four objectives and forced opposing forces to retreat while abandoning numerous prisoners, automatic arms, equipment almost impossible to count and 10 Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft stuck on the ice of a lake.

From 28 May to 2 June, Lieutenant-colonel Magrin-Vernerey and his Legionnaires were victorious at Narvik, which was referred to as "the only french victory of 1939–1940" (French: " la seule victoire française de 1939–1940 "). This victory was worth being cited at the orders of the Free French Forces, with attribution of the croix de guerre bearing palme de vermeil,[3] for having liberated 60 Allied prisoners, apprehending 400 opposing prisoners, capturing 10 cannons and significant material.

Barely back to France with 500 of his men, he rejoined the Free French Forces in England on 21 June 1940 and adopted the name de Monclar (from the village name of Monclar-de-Quercy, in Tarn-et-Garonne).[4] Following, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Participating to operations against the Forces of Axis of Africa and while heading the 1st Free French Division 1re DFL, he took part in the Battle of Keren and the Battle of Massawa.

In June 1941, he refused to take part in combat action against other French Forces in the Levant and particularly refusing to fight against the Legionnaires of the 6th Foreign Infantry Regiment 6e REI. Following his refusal, he was replaced at the head of the 13e DBLE by Lieutenant-colonel Prince Amilakvari and led the unit across northern Libya and into Tunisia.

Promoted to the first section of officer generals, he exercised various command in the Levant, and participated to numerous campaigns and finished his tour as the Superior Commander of Troops in the Levant.

Becoming adjoint to the superior commander of troops in Algeria since 1946, he was in 1948 designated as 2nd Inspector of the Foreign Legion charged with the permanent mission of inspecting Legion units until 1950.[5] During almost these two years, he would permanently set on voyages to the various continents where the Legion would station and engage in combats, including Algeria, Morocco, Madagascar and Indochina.

In 1950, général de corps d'armée, at the eve of his retirement from active duty service, he volunteered to command the United Nation French Battalion in course of formation and exchanged his stars against ranks of a Lieutenant-colonel.

Korean War service[edit]

Ralph Monclar Commandant of the French Battalion in the Korean War (French: Bataillon français de l'ONU) of the UN during the Korean War.

Rather than retire, at age 60, Monclar volunteered to join the French forces fighting in Korea. That force was known as the bataillon de Corée, and was attached to the 23rd U.S. Infantry Regiment as part of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division (U.S.Army). Monclar took a temporary demotion from lieutenant general to lieutenant-colonel to command that formation.[6] According to US Army General Matthew Ridgeway:

I shall speak briefly of the 23rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, Colonel Paul L. Freeman Jr. commanding, [and] with the French Battalion. Isolated far in advance of the general battle line, completely surrounded in near-zero weather, they repelled repeated assaults by day and night by vastly superior numbers of Chinese. They were finally relieved. I want to say that these American fighting men, with their French comrades-in-arms, measured up in every way to the battle conduct of the finest troops America and France have produced throughout their national existence.[2]

Later life and death[edit]

Attaining the limit of service age, he returned to France in 1951.

In 1962 and while succeeding général André Kientz, he became Governor of Les Invalides (French: Gouverneur des Invalides), an official function directing the institution of Les Invalides, and an office in which he died while in official function tenure, like many other Governors.

He was also the founding President of the National Association of United Nations French Forces of the Korean Regiment.[7]



French Decorations[edit]

Foreign Decorations[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Division General Commandant of the French Foreign Legion, Les Chefs COMLE
  2. ^ a b [2] Archived 15 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Site de la promotion de Saint-Cyr "Général Monclar" Archived 30 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Ordre de la Libration". Ordredelaliberation.fr. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  5. ^ [3] Division General Commandant of the French Foreign Legion, L'Etat-major du COMLE (Commandement de la Légion Étrangère), Les Chefs COMLE
  6. ^ Quisefit, Laurent (5 November 2013). "The French Participation in the Korean War and the Establishment of a 'Path of Memory' in South Korea". Societies. 3 (4): 427–444. doi:10.3390/soc3040427. ISSN 2075-4698. 
  7. ^ (ANAFFC ONU et RC, voir le site de l'association à l'adresse suivante [4])